STEREOMOJO SPECIAL REPORT
CES & T.H.E SHOW 2008
Have you ever seen a slice of pizza like this? Even toppings are over the top in Vegas.
From over the top to topless. A lot of that in Vegas, too. In this case, it's just the Nola Baby Grand ($55,000) speakers which, like the rest of Carl Marchisotto's speakers, feature non-baffle top and middle drivers. External crossovers and biwire, too. If you have not ever spent some time with a non-baffle speaker, you should. There is something very unique and special about the open, boundless sound that such a design can deliver. Nola is a great place to start. Our review of the entry level Viper IA will be published soon and we have already published our review of the Viper Reference. Check it out after your finished reading this report.
The Sadhanna by Rythm won a "Best of Show" award from us in 2007. The sound in Vegas was even better - with no room treatments at all. In fact, if you look at the right side, that's a marble hot tub surrounded by mirrors in the corner. These speakers should have sounded very compromised. They didn't. Again, I just wanted to pack them and take them home. They are very hard to get. We've been promised a review "sometime in 2008".That's a Lowther driver you see, but hidden in the back half of the long cabinet is an integrated subwoofer.These things just image like crazy.
Part of the very musical, dynamic presentation must be credited to Vinnie Rossi's new Red Wine Audio Signature 30.2 amp. At 30 wpc and powered directly from batteries, the 30.2 is a specail amp that competes with much costlier brands, even though it sells for only $2,100-$2,500, depending on options. I could have easily been listening to a super high end tube amp. Vinnie is da man!
As always, vinyl was selling well, the sellers alwaysbeseiged by masses. I picked up about a half dozen LPs, including the new Eagles release you see here.
Speaking of vinyl, one of the finest sounding labels is trying desperately to get back into producing vinyl. That would be Reference Recordings. I'm told it's not a matter of if, but a matter of when.They are just being very fastidious about the pressing quality and consistentcy, something that has plagued others.
Speaking of vinyl, the new Whest Audio Two phono pre looks and sounds better than its $1995. "How do you know", you query. "It's obviously not even hooked up!"
True, but I'm reviewing it right now. It's here playing as I write. Some of the new LPs from Classic Records. By the way, the Two is the small unit on top, not the whole thing.
Xindak showed a full line of amps including the $549 tube integrated, upper left. 12.5 watts of triode yumminess for $550? We are going to be all over this one!
Those Italians are at it again. New Mastersound Pf 100 monoblock very Limited Edition.
Parallel Single Ended in class “A”
Power: 2 x 117 Watts
Final Tube: 2 x 4 x 845
Drivers: 2 x 3 x 6SN7 EH (in dual drive system)
Audio board with 24 gold track
iLoad impedence: 4 – 8 Ohm
Negative feedback: 0 dB
Bandwidth: 12 Hz / 100 kHz – 0 dB
Dimensions: 54 x 47 x 27 cm.
Weight: 50 Kg. per unit
A new table from a (somewhat) old company. Creek Audio showed this new beauty with no price set yet. We're gonna try hard to get this one for you.
Here's another one - everything old is new again. Can you recognize this one? It's a Dual.
That's right - Dual. They are not back, they never left we're told. They've been hangin' around Europe all these years and just decided to come back to the States.
Honestly? They looked pretty plasticy and not that impressive. The sound did not blow us away, either. This is the CS-505-4 Semi Auto model that sells for $1,329 with Ortophon OMB 10 cart.
Wally Malewicz demos his new Univeral protractor.
The rpblem (and an advantage) of Wally's other protractors is that they only worked for one particular tonearm. With this, as the universal name implyes, works with a plethora of arms.
Price is $250
What was particularly interesting about this demo is that Wally was using Frank Schroeder's new table. Mr. Schroeder happened to be standing right next to me at the time and the interplay between Frank and Wally was hilarious - Frank was giving Wally a good-natured hard time. Germans, I don't think, are noted for their stand up comedy, but Frank is not only brilliant but a very funny guy.
Almarro is a brand we need to explore. Yoshihiro Muramatsu is is an interesting guy. He does not use boutique audio parts. He does not run any glossy advertising. You could say that he isn't really into the whole high-end audio business world. From Nagano though, he makes very high quality tabe amps at very reasonable prices.
He says, " In actual practice, many of the beliefs held dear by audiophiles baffle me. Things need not be grossly overpriced, unsafe and temperamental to sound good. We pursue designs that are simple but strong and will be appreciated by those with the ears to hear and the common sense to know that $20,000 for any amplifier is unjustified when you can get a very fine, barely used car for such a princely sum."
About boutique parts, Muramatsu-San has strong feelings: "I much prefer industrial parts from the big companies. Their QC is far better and their goods must be be safe and sound or else their many industrial accounts will sue them and put them out of business. I only use readily available parts that will last and do the job reliably and safely."
Makes sense to us. His amps range from singled-ended, 5 wpc integratedat $800 tot push-pull integrated using 8x6550's for only $2,950.Up until now, he has only built integrateds, but he tells us he has had many requests to build monoblocks, so here they are - almost ready for production. They are the A340's with dual 6C33Cs in class A push/pull. No price was given.
The new mono's were driving the nearly 4' tall M3A speakers with three all original drivers, also by Almarro. They go for about $3,000 and go as low as 30Hz with 88dB sensitivity. This system's sound was robust, detailed and elegant. Very musical. Like I said, we want to know more about this company - because we think you ought to know more about it, too.
These are the new Usher "Tiny Dancer" BE-718's (left) that everyone has been raving about. We can't rave about them. Not that we don't like them, it's just that our own Danny Richie is part of the prestigious Usher International Design Team that created them, so we'll leave the raves to others. We will not be reviewing them either, for obvious reasons.
Same with the $14,400 BE-10 floorstander also pictured. Ah, the sacrifices we make in the name of conflict of interest!
Proceed to CES 2008 Part 3
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